What defines luxury? Is it the amount of wood and leather you touch and feel inside the cabin? Is it the badge and the story it tells through its rich history? For the all-new Honda Legend, it’s none of that. Instead, it’s reinterpreting luxury using cutting-edge technology where science fiction seems to blend with science reality. Whether or not you share that world view is immaterial; it’s undeniable that the company that has brought forth VTEC, ASIMO, and the Honda Jet has every reason to be proud of this flagship sedan.
At first, it’s hard what to make of the design. It’s neat and elegant, but passing glances alone may make one dismiss it as an Accord. And then, the compliments from both passenger and passerby alike start pouring in. The deep luster of the Crystal Black Pearl paint is a good starting point. Then, the eyes are affixed onto the front-end with its trademark Jewel Eye LED headlights. This creates a substantial presence that continues to the character lines that start from the hood, sweep over the front wheel arches, and then along the body sides. Once the gaze is locked onto the 19-inch alloy wheels, the reduced wheel arch gap creates a poised and planted look. In short, the Legend isn’t going for a “look-at-me” or “in-your-face” sort of pretentiousness. This one’s destined for the quiet achievers.
Shaking off that initial disappointment, the rest of the Legend’s cabin is stellar. The fancier controls do take some getting used to, but even without access to the owner’s manual, it’s easy to get acquainted with the various systems. Some customization options are buried deep in sub-menus, but they’re all accessible via the large control knob. The more frequently used controls, such as the infotainment, can be operated by the touchscreen interface which happens to have haptic feedback.
The front seats are the best way to spend traffic in thanks to their supportive and cushy nature. It adjusts twelve ways and together with the power tilt/telescopic steering wheel makes finding the perfect driving position a cinch. It’s even ventilated in case you find the summer heat unbearable. The rear seats though are far less exciting. Though they’re also supportive and the legroom is great, there’s not much toys to fiddle with—not even their own climate control. And because of the hybrid drivetrain’s large lithium-ion battery pack, it limits the available headroom to the point that only two adults can sit in the back comfortably; the middle one will have his head brush the ceiling. The same battery pack robs the Legend of trunk space. Despite the long and wide body, the boot is limited to just 328 liters. And since the rear seats don’t fold, going for a round of golf using the Legend is perhaps, wishful thinking.
Others will point out the Legend’s 14-speaker Krell sound system as its pièce de résistance, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, the sound system is good, but nowhere close to as advertised. This leaves the drivetrain as its primary differentiator over the competition and it’s easy to see why anyone will get excited over the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system: it could well be the same one in the NSX, only in reverse. While that’s not exactly the case, it doesn’t make it less interesting. Apart from the familiar 3.5-liter V6 with an integrated electric motor upfront, the twin motor unit layout means having two 36-horsepower electric motors driving the rear wheels. Controlled via electronics (no driveshaft), this system can supply or pull torque resulting in yaw control (or torque vectoring). Combined, the drivetrain maxes out at 380 horsepower and 462 Nm of torque, enough for a 0-100 km/h time in just 5.4 seconds—figures comparable to that of a V8. Apart from performance though, this high-tech drivetrain hasn’t really contributed to a remarkable fuel economy figure: 6.18 km/L (average speed 14 km/h).
It’s hard to top the Legend in terms of quietness. With measures including sound-insulating acoustic glass and a flat underbody, it cocoons its occupants, essentially reducing any and all noises from the outside to whispers. The amplitude-selective dampers make the ride ever so composed, absorbing impacts gracefully. However, the 19-inch wheels do contribute to low speed harshness especially over sharp, undulating patches of tarmac.
And while quietness is its greatest strength, the Legend still lacks a sense of driver engagement. It’s designed as a plush luxury cruiser so any sudden application of power may result in an unintended, but controllable drift. This happened once going down from the SM Mall of Asia parking lot. Using momentum going down the continuous unpainted spiral portion and then tapping on the accelerator upon reaching a leveled painted portion will get the SH-AWD momentarily confused. This kicks the tail out requiring minute correction to keep it tracking straight. Apart from that scary moment, it handles like a smaller car and responds to a change in direction quite well. The steering is devoid of feedback, but it’s accurate and smooth throughout its range of motion. The touchy nature of the brakes is also something that needs getting used to, but the biggest problem is the constant nannying of the Honda Sensing system. Even on its least sensitive setting, flashing warning lights, constant beeping, and tugging of the seat belts becomes the norm. It’s so irritating that it’s worth just shutting everything off.
Honda’s move to introduce its flagship sedan here may be seen as something unnecessary or even distracting when they should be concentrating on products like the Civic. But the Legend’s arrival to the Philippines is necessary. They’re certainly not going to sell a bucket load of these ultra-luxurious sedans, but that’s beside the point. What the Legend does is that it put Honda’s go-against-the-grain thinking back in the spotlight. It proves that luxury need not be driven simply by the badge or the amount of wood paneling it has inside. Technology can be a driver of luxury. If that message manages to rub onto the rest of the Honda line-up, then it’s job done.
2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
|Ownership||2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sports Hybrid SH-AWD|
|Vehicle Classification||Luxury Car|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspirated, Direct Injection|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||V6|
|BHP @ rpm||312 @ 6,500 (380 @ 6,500 combined)|
|Nm @ rpm||369 @ 4,700 (462 @ 4,700 combined)|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Transmission||7-speed Dual Clutch|
|Cruise Control||Yes, Adaptive|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,976|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone, Amplitude Selective Damper|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-link, Amplitude Selective Damper|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Solid Disc|
|Tires||Michelin Pilot Sport 3 245/40 R 19 Y (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Front and Rear, with Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic, Power Adjustment|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||14|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|